Friday, March 30, 2012

Musée Des Beaux Animaux

The human position, we already knew: a global crisis
was taking place while we were eating lunch . . .

It was only natural, perhaps, how everyone turned away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; a man on an oil tanker
Might have heard the last splash, the animal bark or cries . . .
But for him it was unimportant--or perhaps it was just
A small price to pay, a few animals disappearing forever
beneath the waves as the expansive ship glided by.

Musée des Beaux Arts
W. H. Auden

About suffering they were never wrong,
The old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position: how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

1 comment:

TC said...

It gets harder and harder
to turn away from the disasters
when The Disasters R Us.